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Glossary of Terms

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AG-TF membrane The semi-permeable membrane used in the Nimbus Mini RO unit. Resistant to chlorine.
Bacteriostatic Term used to describe an environment in which bacteria can not grow. This is achieved in filter cartridges by incorporating certain chemical compounds into the filter media.
Boondockers RV users who "dry camp", which is to camp without being connected to electrical power, water, and sewer.
Brine Water discharged by a reverse osmosis unit. The concentration of contaminants, including salts, in the brine is higher than in the water feeding the unit, although only slightly.
Bypass valve A valve that enables water to be diverted to a different direction than normal. Used to bypass some part of the filtration system.
Canister A two-piece unit that holds a filter cartridge, consisting of a "head" and a "sump". Made of plastic and available in white and clear.
Cartridge A replaceable element in a filter that actually performs the filtration. Shape and size depend on the filter unit that they are designed to be used with.
Channeling A condition that can develop in filters containing granular materials, usually carbon. Water flow produces small channels within the bed of media that allows the water to pass rapidly through the media without coming into contact with it.
Check valve A one-way valve that only allows water to flow in one direction. Prevents backflow in a filter system.
Coliforms A class of bacteria commonly found in feces of warm-blooded animals. Used to detect fecal contamination.
Cryptosporidium "A one-celled, microscopic parasite, and a significant cause of water borne illness worldwide.  The infective stage, the oocyst, is resistant to most chemical disinfectants, but is susceptible to drying and the ultraviolet portion of sunlight.  Oocysts are shed in the infected individual's feces.  Intestinal cryptosporidiosis is characterized by severe watery diarrhea."

USFDA - Bad Bug Book

Distillation The process of boiling water to form steam, and then condensing the steam to produce pure water. Requires a lot of energy to boil the water, and produces a relatively small quantity of pure water.
Dual-Membrane RO A reverse osmosis (RO) system that employs two membrane cartridges operating in parallel (side-by-side). Used to increase the production rate of an RO system, but used infrequently in RVs.
Filter disk A small disk built into some filters that serves to remove sediment. Has a very limited capacity, and once this disk becomes plugged, the whole filter needs to be replaced.
GAC Granular Activated Carbon - activated carbon in the form of small granules about 1/8-inch in diameter, which is used to improve the taste and odor of water.
Gal/Day (GPD) Gallons per day: a unit used to measure the production of pure water from low-flow systems, such as RO and distillation.
Gal/Min (GPM) Gallons per minute: a unit used to measure flow rates in plumbing systems. A garden hose running wide open has a flow rate of about 5 gpm.
Giardia "A one-celled microscopic parasite that can live in the intestines of animals and people and is transmitted through feces.  It is found in every region throughout the world and has become recognized as one of the most common causes of non-bacterial diarrhea in North America.  Major outbreaks are associated with contaminated water systems that  have a defect in the filtration system."

USFDA - Bad Bug Book

Granular carbon Activated charcoal in the form of small granules. Filter elements are made by packing the granules into a housing. Subject to channeling, and lower performance than solid-block carbon filters.
John Guest fittings A brand of fittings used with plastic tubing. Very clever design that is easy to use, leak-proof, and easy to disassemble.
Jumbo Canister  
KDF A copper/zinc alloy that, when incorporated into filter media, renders the media bacteriostatic. Safer and more benign than other compounds used for this purpose.
Microbe A microorganism, and in this case, refers usually to disease-causing ones.
Micron A unit of length that is equal to one one-thousandth of a millimeter. Human hair is approximately 100 microns in diameter.
Modified Carbon Block A semi-solid carbon material produced by immersing fibers in a carbon slurry, then forming them into a block.
NPT National Pipe Tapered threads, a standard definition of pipe thread commonly used in US plumbing fittings.
NSF National Sanitation Foundation
Ozonating The introduction of ozone into water, either by injecting the gas or by creating it via exposure to UV light, for the purpose of killing microbial contaminants. Very effective as a disinfectant for food preparation.
Pathogen A biological agent (as a bacterium or virus) that causes disease.
Permeate Another term for the pure water produced by a reverse osmosis system. Also called "product water".
Phosphate A class of chemical compounds. Used extensively in detergents and soaps.
Polishing filter The last filter in a series that gives the water a final treatment. Usually a carbon taste-and-odor unit.
Post-filter A filter that is installed downstream from some other device, such as an RO unit, to give the water one last treatment.
Pre-filter A filter that is installed upstream from some other device, such as an RO unit, to remove contaminants that might clog up or deteriorate the downstream equipment.
PSI Pounds per Square Inch: a unit of pressure commonly used in water supply systems. Most RV park water systems provide water at a pressure of 40 - 50 psi.
Quick-connect fittings A class of plumbing fittings that usually do not require tools to assemble or disassemble. There are, however, many different types of these fittings that are incompatible with each other. Be sure to get the right fittings for your application.
RO Reverse osmosis: a process for purifying water. See Information About: Reverse Osmosis.
RO membrane The part of the RO system that actually "filters" the water, they are made in the form of a cylindrical cartridge that can be easily replaced.
Restrictor A part of an RO system that controls the amount of water that passes through the unit. Provides back pressure on the membrane while controlling the discharge of brine, which determines the performance of the whole system.
Solid-block carbon Activated charcoal that is formed into porous blocks. The tighter structure of the block produces smaller pores and longer contact times with the water, so these carbon filter elements give better performance than granular carbon.
Standard Canister  
Sump In a canister assembly, the sump is the part that screws into the head and holds the cartridge.
T & O Taste and odor.
TDS Total Dissolved Solids.  In drinking water, a measure of calcium, magnesium, and other dissolved mineral salts.  Useful when testing reverse osmosis output.
TFM Thin Film Membrane, a type of reverse-osmosis membrane.
Ultraviolet (UV) Ultraviolet light (also called "black light") has wavelengths of 280-400 nanometers, which is on the low end of the visible light spectrum. It can be very harmful to living organisms.
VAC Volts Alternating Current: standard household electricity in the US is 120 VAC.
VDC Volts Direct Current: RV electrical systems operate on 12 VDC.

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